Tag Archives: cooking

Posh Nosh

“Extraordinary cooking for ordinary people.” I wish I’d thought of that.

First of a series of eight incredibly accurate ten minute satires on tv cookery shows.

First screened on the BBC in 2003.

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Onion Fritters – recipe

The Art Of Indian Vegetarian Cooking

I worked this out from a combination of looking through “Lord Krishna’s Cuisine – The Art Of Indian Vegetarian Cooking” by the late Yamuna Devi, my favourite cookbook, and eating the delicious fritters (various) made fresh each day at the Bombay Sweet Centre in Hyson Green, Nottingham

100 grms chickpea flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste)

a few grinds of black pepper

1 medium onion sliced, or finely diced if you prefer

Mix all dry ingredients.  The flour goes into lumps really easily, just keep at them with a fork.  I’ve read that you can sieve the flour beforehand, but it still goes to lumps as soon as you start working it, so I don’t bother.

Add water, stirring all the time, until the batter is the consistency of thin cream.

I sometimes add a squeeze of lemon to the mix before frying.

Mix in your onions, then pour a dessertspoon at a time into a medium hot pan with a little oil.

Turn when the edges are colouring and bubbles appear on the surface, fry until golden.

Good hot or cold, on their own or with your choice of chutney, pickle or yoghurt dip.

The above quantities make 6 or 8.

Bombay Sweet Centre - Hyson Green, Nottingham

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Nettle Pesto – Recipe

Nettle Pesto

Now’s the time to harvest nettle tops, before they become tall, bitter and gritty. The top six leaves are what you’re after, but if there are plenty, cutting them low will give you a second crop in a few weeks. Leave some for the butterflies.

Half a dozen handfuls of nettle leaves, stripped from the stalks (about ⅓ of a carrier bag)
Two cloves of garlic
An optional bird’s eye chilli, chopped fine
½ tsp salt
A dozen or so grinds of black pepper
Juice of half a lemon or lime
Grated parmesan or similar, to taste
Oil – olive or sunflower

Rinse the leaves in a colander then tip into a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You’re aiming to drive off most of the bitter, greenish-brown liquid which exudes without drying out or burning the leaves. The stewing nettles smell faintly of smoked fish, which is a surprise the first time you use them.

Meanwhile, chop the garlic and cover with the salt (or use a garlic press).

When you’re happy with the leaves’ texture, tip out, chop roughly and add the other ingredients, crushing the garlic with the back of a knife.

Eat immediately with pasta or on good bread. It has a delicious, earthy, salty flavour somewhere between the traditional basil based pesto and a tapenade. I was considering adding chopped olives, but decided not to, this time.

I’m experimenting with jarring it, as in the pic, to see how long it will last. If you decide to give it a go, don’t press the pesto too firmly into the jar and pour in enough oil to just reach the surface. This will seem like a lot of oil, but the pesto absorbs it overnight.

Remember – parmesan isn’t vegetarian. Parmazano is a vegan substitute, I think Waitrose stock it.


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Pickled Chillies


I love chillies – but not in an immature “How hot can I take it?” way. I tried a Phal in a Pakistani restaurant 20 years ago and couldn’t see the point. My favoured chilli sensation is when their heat and combination with other spices begins to make the scalp tingle, without blasting the taste buds and masking any other flavours. The kick and warmth they give to a dish can be such a satisfying, and variable, experience it surprises me they didn’t really make their presence felt in the UK until the 19th C. Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, yes, for centuries. But not chillies. Perhaps someone knows why.

Whenever I see a batch on the reduced shelf in the supermarket I grab them, any that don’t get used before they begin to soften being pickled or put in a big pan of pasta sauce to be frozen.

The pickled chillies in the shops over here tend to be the Anaheim or banana varieties, long, tapering fruits, not too fiery, that can be eaten as a snack or with a salad. (I’m not including jalapenos – just a personal thing). I prefer to pickle bird’s eye, or Calcutta, chillies as they’re smaller, stronger and better suited to cooking.

2 or 3 handfuls bird’s eye chillies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
A few black peppercorns
200ml cider vinegar
100ml water

Trim any long stalks from the chillies. While the other ingredients are gently simmering for 10 minutes or so, cut a small slit in each one and pack them fairly tightly – they float – into still hot, sterilised jars with, optionally, a peeled clove of garlic, a bayleaf and maybe a sprig of your favourite herb. I’ve used thyme, fresh and dried, with equally good results. Another option is to add a teaspoon of coriander and/or black mustard seeds to the vinegar, but I’ve kept this simple.

Pour over the hot pickling vinegar, including the peppercorns, screw on the lids and leave for three or four weeks to mature.

I use them in curries when I’m out of fresh chilli, as a pizza topping alongside pickled mushrooms, in pasta sauce or salads, anywhere you might use fresh chillies.

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Banana Bread – recipe


I searched and searched for a simple banana bread/cake recipe which was
a) vegan
b) easily adapted to taste.
Eventually I found this online and, true to form, have long since lost the link so cannot give its due attribution.

6 oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz sugar
2 oz butter/margarine
3 very, very ripe bananas

Mix baking powder into flour.
Cream butter/marg and sugar together.
Mash in the bananas – I prefer to leave in a few lumps for an occasional flavour bomb.
Stir in the flour/baking powder mixture.
Pour into a greased tin and bake at 150°C for an hour or so.
The smell will tell you when it’s ready.

This keeps very well in the bread bin, I can’t say for how long because it’s so moreish it’s gone within 3 or 4 days. Apparently it freezes very well, although I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you come across a vast bounty of cut price bananas.

The best results come from really ripe, blackening bananas. I look out for reduced price bananas in the supermarket, on the fruit and veg market and in the village shop. Today I bought a dozen “over” ripe bananas for .60p from Tesco. Ideal!

I have used granulated sugar and demerara with equally pleasing results. No doubt you could use any sugar – muscavado, jaggery, honey. As John Seymour said, “Sugar is sugar is sugar”.

Possible additions – chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts, walnuts or hazelnuts for example.

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Seasonal Food Week No. 5 – Blackberries

As a kid, blackberry picking up at Harwell woods was the only activity I remember enjoying en famille. Back then, the sixties, there were always other pickers about, but I find now that I pick alone, even though we’re lucky enough to have good brambles on waste ground in the heart of the village here.
A tip I picked up back then which I always use – pick along a bank of brambles then, when you reach the end, turn round and pick the same bushes in the opposite direction. There are always loads you will have missed.

Here are recipes for the classic blackberry jam and blackberry and apple crumble.
Blackberry wine
Two of my favourites are blackberry chutney, but be sure to keep stirring or it will catch on the bottom of the pan and spoil the flavour, and the delicious Georgian sauce makvali, which I only discovered last year. Makvali is basically a chilli sauce with blackberries as the base rather than tomatoes – goes well with anything, meat or vegetarian.

I’m using the phrase ‘seasonal food’ to indicate those foods which, generally, are only available in their growing season, so many are wild and all grow in the UK.

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Seasonal Food Week No. 4 – Rhubarb

I was tempted to say only ‘visit The Rhubarb Compendium‘ – an astonishing, sprawling, never to be finished site from the US.
Then I checked and found scant reference to The Rhubarb Triangle in West Yorkshire, home of forced Yorkshire rhubarb which was awarded PDO status two years ago.
Forcing rhubarb seems to be a tricky business, trade secrets being handed down through the family. Only last week, the rhubarb forcers were facing problems due to the lack of frost, but although I’m about 60 miles south of the triangle, I should think that problem’s over.
A man in a pub once told me that, when the conditions are just right, the rhubarb grows so fast that if you stand still in the sheds too long you come out wearing a rhubarb leaf hat.
Watch this video on Vimeo at fullscreen and take a look into the magical world of the forcing sheds.
Finally, an interesting page from The Poison Garden website.

I’m using the phrase ‘seasonal food’ to indicate those foods which, generally, are only available in their growing season, so many are wild and all grow in the UK.

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